Previously known as Libdemchild

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Why students should consider supporting the strike

Should University students be conflicted over lecturers’ being on strike and cancelling classes? The point of being a student is to be able to engage in wider debate, look at the bigger picture and analyse issues that are beyond our individual concerns. But in an age where so much stress is placed on getting a good education as a route to a good job many students, like me, are panicking over missing lectures for two weeks with exams looming in two months’ time.

An opportunity to discover the wider debate about the strike presented itself yesterday when I turned up for a seminar.

I had spent hours preparing for this lesson. At the entrance to university, I was stopped by two lecturers, pictured above, who asked me not to cross the picket line and to lend my support to the strike. I took the opportunity to speak to them. They explained how lecturers often accept lower salaries for the promise of long-term financial security in the form of pensions. This is a deal which they accept over a lifetime. So when pensions are axed it makes the career choice much less financially viable.

 If lecturers are seen as being treated unfairly who, as one of the professors said, would consider becoming a lecturer among current and future students?  Academia becomes a rather unattractive choice as a career and current lecturers are likely to search for alternative employment.

The penny dropped for me. Students need to realise that this strike not only affects lecturers but also has serious repercussions in the long-term for the future of higher education in this country.

Channel 4's Dispatches programme entitled 'Britain's University Spending Scandal' highlighted to me the disproportionate spending of vice-chancellors on expenses. Obscene amounts were spent purchasing mugs, pillows, expensive wine and lavish dinners. There was even the ridiculous case of the University of Surrey spending more than £1600 on relocating their vice-chancellor's dog.

Why should lecturer's take cuts to their pensions, which form their financial security, when universities refuse to prioritise their salaries?

 It seems that it's not the case that universities do not have the resources to support lecturers' pension but that they refuse to be responsible and fair with their spending. Universities pay ridiculously high salaries to vice-chancellors while lecturers face cuts. Take, for example, Bath University who paid the vice-chancellor almost half a million last year.

 It is the same old tired situation of those at the top earning disproportionately large salaries whilst claiming it is necessary to cut pay to employees.

I have always wholeheartedly supported the right to strike and I now am convinced that students do have a responsibility to consider supporting this strike.

It should also be noted that the demands the strikers are making force universities to consider students as being more than mere consumers. Education is being monetised in a seriously debilitating manner. It is important that we are viewed as integral and valued members of university otherwise universities view us merely as financial pawns and our concerns will only ever be tackled from a financial perspective. Education is a public service. Lecturers provide a public service. Educated students and lecturers contribute to the skills demands of the country.

 Lecturers who are on strike are not the enemy. We need to move closer to a more beneficial and fairer system of education.

No comments

Post a comment

Blogger Template Created by pipdig